We watch a lot of horror here at Downright Creepy, obviously, so it can be difficult for anything to truly give us a scare. Even more difficult? Terrifying us on multiple viewings and leaving us ready to ride the ride again, but that is just what A24’s latest genre offering ‘Talk To Me’ has done. I have been fortunate to see this film twice (so far) in the theater, both times seated next to DRC Founder Tim KC Canton, and in each viewing we have both physically reacted to the scares and the effects and left talking about how much we can’t wait for EVERYONE who loves horror to see this movie. These conversations have extended out into the lobbies and into our chat groups and we’ve yet to find anyone who has seen the movie who disagrees. At the risk of cranking the knob on the hype machine too far, I’m telling you that you need to see this in a theater!
Australian horror can often be unflinchingly brutal and ‘Talk To Me’ is no exception. When it goes it goes hard, but this is more than just a mindless gore fest, it also brings to the table well developed characters with a thoughtful plot and a lot of heart. Mia is a high school student whose mother has recently passed away. She is grieving and lonely, disconnected from his father who is working through his own grief, as she spends much of her time with the family of her best friend Jade. When she and Jade discover videos of a strange supernatural game being played by their classmates at parties, Mia insists that they get out of the house and see what is happening. At the party with Jade’s little brother Riley in tow they are introduced to the disembodied ceramic coated hand of someone who could speak with the dead and a ritual to let them do the same–as long as they don’t go over 90 seconds.
Normally in teen driven horror I’m ready to see some dumb kids get what’s coming to them, but I was genuinely rooting for the best outcome for every character in this film. Even the kind of jerky kids who were currently in possession of the hand felt redeemable and real. As much as I love the visceral effects and genuinely scary imagery in ‘Talk To Me’ it was the emotions evoked in the story itself that really hung with me. Mia’s grief feels real and her desperate quest for connection and understanding drives her into some dark places. You can always count on teens to make the worst decisions, and there are no exceptions to that here, but the motivations are relatable and it’s easy to see how they get in over their heads.
This is the first feature film for directors Danny and Michael Philippou, who cut their teeth filming backyard wrestling and over the top pranks. While they built a following on Youtube their goal has always been feature films and this is a heck of a good start. Their dedication to using a young and largely unknown cast completely paid off, particularly with Sophie Wilde as Mia. Another big pay off is their insistence that practical effects always look better than CGI, they absolutely do here. This feels like a huge debut that could set them up as genre leaders and I can’t wait to see what horrors they have in store for us next!
REVIEW: Brutal and Terrifying ‘Talk To Me’ is a Crowd Pleaser